Get out your cookie tins, Christmas baking season has arrived

features@beaufortgazette.comDecember 3, 2013 

FOOD HDY-CHRISTMAS-COOKIES 12 ND

Making cookies is really simple, and they can make great gifts at Christmastime.

GORDON M. GRANT — McClatchy-Tribune News Service

This time of year I can usually be caught with a cookie in my hand.

December puts me in the mood for baking, and I enjoy every moment of it -- from shopping for supplies to keeping an eye on the oven so these little treats come out just right.

Making cookies is simple. All you really need are butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, flour and salt. Some recipes call for unsalted butter -- never use margarine. Also, I say sugar is sugar. Some recipes call for granulated, others for confectioners'. Soft, light and dark brown sugars are used for a richer favor. Depending on what flour you use, baking powder might be necessary. Self-rising flour has all the rising ingredients; whereas all-purpose does not.

Have fun and be creative when making cookies. It can truly bring out the young at heart.

Orange and Chocolate Fingers

Makes: 35 cookies

1 cup butter, softened

scant 3/4 superfine sugar

grated rind of 1 orange

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons orange juice

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Salt

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces

Put the butter, sugar and orange rind into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon; then beat in the egg yolk and orange juice. Sift together the flour, ginger and a pinch of salt into the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment. Unwrap the dough and roll out between 2 sheets of baking parchment to a rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut it into 4 by 3/4-inch strips and put them on the prepared cookie sheet spaced well apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until light golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes, then, using a metal spatula, carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Put the pieces of chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Remove from the heat and let cool. When the chocolate is cool but not set, dip the cookie diagonally into it to half coat; then put on the wire racks and let set. You might find it easier to do this using tongs.

Source: "1 Dough, 100 Cookies," by Linda Doeser (2009)

Almond Crunchies

1 cup butter, softened

scant 3/4 cup superfine sugar

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

Salt

2 cups blanched almonds, chopped

Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon; then beat in the egg yolk and almond extract. Sift together the flour and a pinch of salt into the mixture; add the almonds; stir until thoroughly combined. Halve the dough; shape into balls and wrap in plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with baking parchment. Shape the dough into about 50 small balls and flatten them slightly between the palms of your hands. Put on the prepared cookie sheets spaced well apart.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5-10 minutes, then, using a metal spatula, carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: "1 Dough, 100 Cookies," by Linda Doeser (2009)

Christmas Bells

1 cup butter, softened

scant 3/4 cup superfine sugar

finely grated rind of 1 lemon

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

generous 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

To decorate:

2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg white

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cups confectioners' sugar

30 silver balls

food coloring pens

Put the butter, sugar and lemon rind into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon, then beat in the egg yolk. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt into the mixture; add the chocolate chips. Stir until thoroughly combined. Halve the dough; shape the balls and wrap in plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment. Unwrap the dough and roll out between 2 sheets of baking parchment. Stamp out cookies with a 2-inch bell-shaped cutter and put them on the prepared cookie sheets spaced well apart.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet, 5-10 minutes. Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Combine the egg white and lemon juice in a bowl; gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. With the cookies still on the racks, spread the frosting over them. Place a silver ball on the clapper shape at the bottom of the cookie and let set completely. When the frosting is dry, use the food coloring to draw patterns on the cookies.

Source: "1 Dough, 100 Cookies," by Linda Doeser (2009)

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